Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Skyfall (2012) | Women

Returning to form for the movie series, Bond has sex with as many women in Skyfall as he did in Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace combined. The first one almost doesn't count though, because she never speaks and doesn't even get a name. The credits just call her Bond's Lover.

But her namelessness is the point. She's not an important person to Bond. She is however important to illustrating his frame of mind when he's shot by Eve and goes missing in southwest Turkey. He goes at it like crazy with her up against a wall, but afterwards he's totally distracted; drinking a beer and staring into the distance as she cuddles him. It's the same with his drinking right after that. He throws himself into it to the point that he's drinking with literal scorpions, but is totally empty once the experience is over.

I like Eve Moneypenny a lot. Naomi Harris is a great actress and brings a lot of nuance to a role that needs it. A small part of me wishes that Moneypenny hadn't tried field work before becoming Mallory's permanent assistant, because the temptation is to think that she failed at it. That's not really it though. She tried it, had a horrible experience in the teaser, then tried it again and had a better time. But she ultimately decides that it's not for her and there's no shame in that.

Harris and Craig sell this. There's no judgment in him when he says that field work isn't for everyone. And there's no judgment in herself when she decides that she agrees. She's confident in her decision and has found her niche.

I love that the flirtation between them is already there and that it's mutual. They're friends. They might have become more than that, but her new job eliminates that possibility. It's a great relationship and I'm excited to see more of it.

Séverine kind of breaks my heart. The first time I saw the movie, it took me a while to warm up to her. There's something wrong about her confidence when she meets Bond, like she's obviously posing. Which of course she is. The more she talks, the more terrified you realize that she is. As Bond says, she's doing her best to hide it, but isn't succeeding. Bérénice Marlohe is amazing in the role and it kills me that Bond isn't able to save her.

He doesn't even give saving her a real try. He's in full-on blunt instrument mode by the time he gets on the boat with her. He knows he's very close to the person behind the MI6 bombing and doesn't bother trying to sneak onto the island. He just lets himself get captured as usual and never mind any collateral damage. It would be interesting to go back and watch earlier films when Bond's allies are killed and see if there's a way he could have saved them had he not been so focused on the villain.

I could've talked about M in any of the "Women" posts for the last five movies, but chose to discuss her in the "Allies" section instead. With Skyfall though, there's an effort to explore her not just in relation to Bond, but as a full character.

Bond's apparent death hits her hard and the first shots of the movie after the credits are of her in shock. Then she feels even worse after the deaths of eight people in the MI6 bombing. Her confidence and trust in herself are severely shaken. She's lost the control that she tried to hard to hold onto in the cold open.

It doesn't help that others are questioning her too, starting with Mallory, the chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee. He offers her a GCMG (Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George) if she retires quietly, but she's not biting. Her pride won't let her. "I'll leave when the job's done."

The rest of the movie is largely about her trying to regain her trust in herself, but the tragedy is that she really doesn't. Silva pokes at her big time, but she's confronted with even more failure concerning Bond. She's always recruited orphans because they make the best agents, but by going to Skyfall, she has to face the reality that orphans aren't just convenient demographics or advantages for training. Bond's losing his parents was a serious tragedy in his life that deeply haunts him. When she tells him with her last breath that "I did get one thing right," it's meant to encourage him, but it's also her way of acknowledging the many things that she didn't.

My Favorite Bond Women

1. Tracy Bond (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
2. Vesper Lynd (Casino Royale)
3. Melina Havelock (For Your Eyes Only)
4. Camille Montes (Quantum of Solace)
5. Kara Milovy (The Living Daylights)
6. Wai Lin (Tomorrow Never Dies)
7. Paula Caplan (Thunderball)
8. Tatiana Romanova (From Russia With Love)
9. Natalya Simonova (GoldenEye)
10. Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)

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